Google Coral USB Accelerator Development Board – Adafruit Industries

January 27, 2024


Introduction to Google Coral: Pioneering Local AI

Google Coral emerges as a beacon in the realm of local AI, marking a significant shift in the approach to machine learning (ML) and AI. At its core, Google Coral is a platform that facilitates on-device ML, enabling developers and hobbyists to integrate AI capabilities directly into their devices. This is largely achievable due to the Edge TPU coprocessor, a specialized hardware accelerator designed to execute state-of-the-art mobile vision models like MobileNet V2 efficiently. 

What sets Google Coral apart is its ability to run TensorFlow Lite models at the edge, which means faster inferencing times and reduced dependency on cloud services. This edge computing approach ensures that data processing happens locally, enhancing privacy and speed. It’s particularly useful in applications where sending data to the cloud might be impractical or pose privacy concerns. 

Additionally, the Coral platform is versatile, supporting a range of hardware from the USB Accelerator to the Coral Dev Board. The USB Accelerator, compatible with USB 3.0, is a plug-and-play option for adding the Edge TPU’s power to existing systems, including popular single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi. This flexibility makes it an ideal choice for a myriad of projects, from simple hobbyist experiments to complex industrial applications. 

The Edge TPU coprocessor in Google Coral stands out for its ability to efficiently handle machine learning models. This is not just about running pre-existing models; it’s about enabling the device to learn from real-time data, adapt and make decisions on the fly. The use of TensorFlow Lite also means that developers can leverage a familiar and powerful framework for creating and deploying ML models, all while keeping the data processing localized on the device.

Exploring the Google Coral USB Accelerator: Unleashing Edge Computing

The Google Coral USB Accelerator is a groundbreaking tool in the field of edge computing. It’s designed to bring the capabilities of Google’s Edge TPU to existing computers and single-board systems like the Raspberry Pi. This small, yet powerful device connects via a USB port, ideally USB 3.0 for optimal performance, and can execute complex vision models such as MobileNet V2 at impressively high frames per second (fps). 

What makes the Coral USB Accelerator stand out is its ability to perform ML inferencing at the edge. This means that all the data processing is done locally on the device, rather than being sent to a remote server. This local processing not only ensures privacy and security of the data but also results in faster response times, critical for applications like real-time object detection or autonomous navigation.

The USB Accelerator is compatible with a range of operating systems, including Linux and Debian, making it a versatile choice for a variety of ML projects. Its integration with TensorFlow Lite allows developers to easily deploy pre-trained models or develop custom solutions tailored to their specific needs. 

Moreover, the use of the Edge TPU coprocessor within the USB Accelerator enables it to perform machine learning tasks more efficiently compared to traditional CPUs. This efficiency is particularly evident in the execution of state-of-the-art mobile vision models, where the Edge TPU can process data at high speeds without compromising on accuracy.

In summary, the Google Coral USB Accelerator embodies the essence of edge computing. It allows developers and tech enthusiasts to harness the power of ML and AI directly on their devices, opening a realm of possibilities for innovative applications in various fields, from robotics to IoT. The blend of accessibility, performance, and efficiency makes it an invaluable asset in the evolving landscape of AI technology.

Understanding the Edge TPU: Powering AI on the Edge

The Edge TPU is a small ASIC designed by Google, defining the heart of the Coral platform’s AI capabilities. As a coprocessor, it’s specifically engineered for on-device ML inferencing, showcasing a remarkable capability of performing 4 trillion operations per second. This efficiency translates to executing advanced vision models such as MobileNet at nearly 400 fps, making it ideal for high-speed computer vision tasks. The Edge TPU’s unique power comes from its low power cost, using only 0.5 watts, allowing for energy-efficient operation even in small form factor devices.

When integrated into the Coral development board, the Edge TPU turns the board into a single-board computer with formidable AI processing power. This System-on-Module (SoM) setup, which includes the Edge TPU as a coprocessor, is pivotal for developers and hobbyists who need to prototype AI projects rapidly. It’s not just about raw power; the Coral TPU ensures that machine learning models can run on the edge, thus facilitating real-time data processing and decision-making directly on AI devices. 

The application of the Edge TPU extends to various fields, from object detection in surveillance systems to local AI in home automation, powered by platforms like Home Assistant. This versatility is further amplified by the Edge TPU’s compatibility with TensorFlow Lite models, which can be compiled to run efficiently on this powerful coprocessor.

The Google Coral Development Board: A Hub for AI Innovation

The Google Coral development board is a prime example of a high-performance single-board computer tailored for edge AI applications. As a central component of the Coral ecosystem, it embodies the concept of local AI, providing all the peripheral connections needed to prototype a project. This dev board, with its small form factor, houses an on-board Edge TPU, a coprocessor capable of delivering 2 TOPS per watt, thus offering a balance between power and efficiency.

One of the board’s standout features is its CSI-2 camera interface, enabling high-accuracy custom image classification models. This functionality, combined with the ability to run TensorFlow Lite models, positions the Google Coral development board as a go-to choice for developing and scaling AI-driven projects. With its on-board EMMC, developers can leverage the dev board to prototype and eventually scale to production using their custom PCB.

The Coral development board’s utility is evident in applications such as Frigate, an open-source Home Assistant integration for real-time object detection. This use case illustrates how the dev board, with its low-power yet highly capable Edge TPU, can revolutionize home automation and security. Additionally, its USB 3.0 Type-C port ensures fast data transfer and connectivity, making the Google Coral development board not just an AI powerhouse but also a versatile tool in any developer’s arsenal.

In summary, the Google Coral development board, with its on-board Edge TPU and array of features, offers a comprehensive and efficient platform to build products with local AI. Its integration with existing systems, ease of use, and powerful AI capabilities make it an invaluable asset in the realm of edge computing and AI device development.

Enhancing Edge AI with the Coral USB Accelerator and Dev Board

The Coral USB Accelerator emerges as a pivotal component in the realm of edge AI, bringing machine learning inferencing to existing systems in a power-efficient manner. As a USB accessory that seamlessly integrates with devices like Raspberry Pi, it exemplifies the potential of on-device ML. This small ASIC, designed by Google, is capable of performing 4 trillion operations per second, offering real-time AI vision capabilities for tasks such as image classification and object detection. 

The Coral USB Accelerator, combined with Google Coral AI technology, empowers IoT and edge devices to execute TensorFlow Lite models at an impressive 400 fps. Its USB 3.0 Type-C port ensures swift data transfer, making it an ideal choice for developers needing low power yet high-performing AI solutions. This device transforms how ML inferencing is conducted in various sectors, from home automation using platforms like Home Assistant to more complex projects involving Frigate for surveillance.

In tandem, the Coral development board, specifically the Coral Dev Board, stands as a testament to Google’s commitment to local AI. This board is a single-board computer that encapsulates the power of the Coral TPU and SoM (System-on-Module), providing all the peripheral connections needed to prototype AI projects. It’s not only about the hardware; the dev board’s ability to run TensorFlow Lite models, combined with a CSI-2 camera interface, enables high-accuracy custom image classification models, crucial for advanced AI applications.

Coral is a Complete Toolkit for Building Local AI Products

Coral is a complete ecosystem for building products with local AI, encompassing everything from the Coral USB Accelerator to the Google Coral development board. This holistic approach allows developers to scale their projects from prototype to production using the Coral board and its integrated SoC. The low power cost of the Coral TPU, using just 0.5 watts, along with its capability to perform trillions of operations per second, highlights its efficiency and power.

The Google Coral TPU, integral to these devices, is a small ASIC that changes the landscape of on-device ML. It enables AI devices to run complex learning models in a power-efficient manner, a critical aspect for edge devices. With the Coral board’s small form factor and on-board features like EMMC and Edge TPU as a coprocessor, developers have a robust platform to develop, test, and deploy their AI solutions.

The practical applications of this toolkit extend beyond traditional domains. With the Coral Dev Board, innovators can delve into AI vision projects, leveraging the board’s capability to compile and run TensorFlow Lite models efficiently. This is especially relevant for applications requiring low latency, such as real-time object detection in edge computing scenarios.

In essence, the Coral toolkit democratizes AI, making it accessible and practical for a wide range of applications. Whether it’s for enhancing home automation systems, developing smart IoT solutions, or creating advanced object detection mechanisms, Coral provides the necessary tools and resources to build sophisticated AI solutions on the edge.

TensorFlow Lite Models and Edge Computing with Coral

The integration of TensorFlow Lite models with the Google Coral platform epitomizes the advancements in AI vision and edge computing. TensorFlow Lite models, when compiled to run on the Coral system-on-module (SOM), unlock tremendous potential, especially considering that the on-board Edge TPU is capable of performing 4 trillion operations per second. This efficiency is further highlighted by the Edge TPU’s ability to operate at 2 TOPS per watt, ensuring power-efficient ML inferencing for edge devices.

The Google Coral USB, notably in the form of a USB stick, extends these capabilities to a broader range of hardware. This USB accessory, when connected to devices via a USB 3 port, empowers them to execute complex AI models, including vision models such as MobileNet V2 at almost 400 fps. This unique power comes from the small ASIC designed by Google, specifically for running ML models in a low-power, efficient manner, using only 0.5 watts.

For developers looking to prototype AI projects, the Coral dev board is an essential tool. This board is a single-board computer with all the necessary connections needed to prototype a project. Its compact form factor makes it ideal for developing and testing AI applications before scaling to production using a custom PCB. The ability to run TensorFlow Lite models on the edge, combined with the Google Coral USB and dev board, marks a significant stride in making AI accessible and practical for real-world applications.

Scaling AI Projects from Prototype to Production with Coral

Google Coral’s architecture is ingeniously designed to scale AI projects from initial prototype to full-scale production. The cornerstone of this scalability is the Coral dev board, a single-board computer that serves as a versatile platform for developing and testing AI models. With its system-on-module (SOM) design, incorporating the powerful Coral TPU, the dev board becomes a hub for AI vision and edge computing innovations.

The Coral board’s unique power is evident in its ability to efficiently run TensorFlow Lite models compiled for edge computing. Developers can utilize the board to prototype their projects, leveraging its on-board Edge TPU that is capable of performing 4 trillion operations per second. This high performance, coupled with a low power cost of using only 0.5 watts, ensures that the dev board is not just powerful but also energy-efficient.

A key feature of the Coral platform is its support for peripheral connections essential in prototyping AI projects. This includes the CSI-2 camera interface for high-quality image capture, crucial for computer vision applications. Once prototypes are successfully tested, developers can scale their designs to production by integrating their custom PCB with the Coral SOM. This scalability is a testament to the Google Coral platform’s commitment to supporting the entire lifecycle of AI product development.

In summary, Google Coral offers a comprehensive solution for AI development, from the initial stages of prototyping using the dev board to scaling up to full production. Its combination of high performance, energy efficiency, and scalability makes it an ideal choice for developers and companies looking to harness the power of AI and edge computing in their products and solutions.

Harnessing the Power of Google Coral for Advanced AI Projects

Google Coral, with its advanced AI capabilities, is revolutionizing how we approach complex AI projects. This powerful platform is not just for simple ML tasks; it’s perfectly equipped for handling advanced AI applications, providing developers with the tools they need to push the boundaries of innovation. The key to Coral’s success in these ventures lies in its highly efficient Edge TPU, which is specifically designed to accelerate ML inferencing tasks while maintaining a low power cost.

The Edge TPU’s prowess is exemplified in its ability to execute intensive AI tasks, such as high-accuracy object detection and sophisticated image classification, in real-time. This makes it an ideal choice for applications requiring rapid processing without the latency associated with cloud computing. Furthermore, Coral’s compatibility with TensorFlow Lite models ensures that developers can leverage the latest advancements in AI with ease.

What sets Coral apart in the realm of advanced AI projects is its scalability. Starting from a prototype on the Coral dev board, developers can seamlessly scale their projects to full-scale production. This scalability is bolstered by Coral’s modular design, allowing for easy integration into custom PCBs and various form factors. As a result, Coral is not only a tool for development but also a robust solution for deploying AI applications in real-world scenarios.

The Future Trajectory of Google Coral in AI Development

Looking ahead, the potential of Google Coral in the field of AI development is immense. As AI continues to evolve, the need for powerful, efficient, and scalable AI solutions becomes increasingly critical. Google Coral is well-positioned to meet these demands with its innovative Edge TPU technology and comprehensive ecosystem. The future of AI development with Coral is likely to see even greater integration of AI in everyday devices, making technology more intuitive and responsive to human needs.

In the coming years, we can anticipate Google Coral playing a significant role in driving forward innovations in areas such as autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and personalized healthcare. The ability of Coral to process data on the edge, ensuring privacy and reducing latency, makes it an invaluable asset in these sectors. Additionally, as IoT continues to grow, Coral’s role in enabling smarter and more efficient IoT devices will be pivotal.

The continuous advancements in AI models and the increasing need for real-time processing will also see Coral’s technology evolving. We can expect enhancements in its processing capabilities, power efficiency, and ease of integration, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of edge AI technology. Ultimately, Google Coral’s trajectory in AI development is not just about technological advancements but also about creating a more connected and intelligent world.

Exploring the Competitive Landscape: Google Coral’s Place Among AI Innovators

In the fast-evolving world of AI and edge computing, Google Coral is not alone. It stands among a competitive landscape where numerous players strive to offer innovative solutions. This competitive environment pushes technology forward, as each platform brings its unique strengths to the table. Google Coral’s direct competitors include NVIDIA’s Jetson Nano and Intel’s Neural Compute Stick. While these platforms also provide edge AI capabilities, Google Coral differentiates itself with its highly efficient Edge TPU and robust support for TensorFlow Lite.

NVIDIA’s Jetson series, known for its powerful GPU-based AI accelerators, caters to high-end, compute-intensive applications. Intel’s Neural Compute Stick, on the other hand, offers versatility with its VPU-based architecture. However, Google Coral’s Edge TPU stands out for its exceptional efficiency in performing ML inferencing tasks, particularly in low-power scenarios. This efficiency makes Coral particularly suitable for applications in IoT and smart devices where power consumption is a critical consideration.

The future of edge AI is not just about raw processing power; it’s about the integration of AI capabilities into everyday devices in a seamless and energy-efficient manner. Here, Google Coral’s approach to AI, focusing on efficiency and ease of use, positions it uniquely in the market. As AI continues to become more pervasive in our daily lives, platforms like Google Coral that balance power, efficiency, and ease of deployment will likely become increasingly important.

FeatureGoogle CoralJetson NanoJetson Nano OrinIntel Neural Compute Stick
ProcessorEdge TPU128-core Maxwell GPUAmpere architecture with 1,024 CUDA cores and 32 Tensor coresIntel Movidius Myriad X VPU
Performance4 TOPS472 GFLOPSUp to 40 TOPS (INT8)Up to 1 TOPS
Power Consumption0.5 Watts per TOPS5-10 watts7-15 wattsLow (specifics not provided)
Framework SupportTensorFlow LiteTensorFlow, PyTorch, CaffeSame as Jetson Nano plus enhancements for OrinOpenVINO
Primary Use CaseEdge AI applications with high-speed inferencingAI research, education, hobbyist projectsAdvanced AI projects and prototypes requiring significant processing powerEnhancing existing systems with AI capabilities
Development EaseHigh, supported by dev board and modulesSupported by NVIDIA software and communityHigh, with JetPack SDK enhancements for Orin devicesEasy to integrate with USB connectivity
Form FactorUSB stick, modules, and dev boardSingle-board computerSimilar to Jetson Nano but with updated Orin architectureUSB stick

Conclusion: The Evolving Role of Google Coral in AI and Edge Computing

As we reflect on the capabilities and potential of Google Coral, it becomes clear that this platform is set to play a pivotal role in the evolution of AI and edge computing. Its unique blend of efficiency, power, and ease of use makes it a valuable tool for developers and innovators looking to integrate AI into a wide range of applications. From IoT devices to complex industrial systems, Google Coral provides the necessary tools to make AI more accessible and practical.

The future of Google Coral in AI development is bright, with potential advancements in its technology and increased adoption across various sectors. As the demand for real-time processing and edge-based AI solutions grows, Coral’s efficient and scalable platform is well-positioned to meet these emerging needs. The journey of AI and edge computing is just beginning, and Google Coral is set to be a key player in shaping this exciting future.

In conclusion, Google Coral represents not just a technological innovation but a step towards a smarter, more connected world. Its ability to bring powerful AI capabilities to the edge will undoubtedly drive new innovations and transform how we interact with technology in our everyday lives. The journey ahead for Google Coral is filled with possibilities, and it will be exciting to see how it continues to shape the landscape of AI and edge computing.

What is Google Coral’s Edge TPU?

The Edge TPU in Google Coral is a small ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) designed by Google. It’s optimized for low-power, high-performance ML inferencing, making it perfect for edge computing. For instance, it can efficiently run advanced mobile vision models, like MobileNet V2, at high speeds.

How fast is the Edge TPU in Google Coral

Google Coral’s Edge TPU boasts a remarkable processing speed, capable of performing 4 trillion operations per second (4 TOPS). Impressively, it does this using only 2 watts of power, which translates to 2 TOPS per watt, showcasing its energy efficiency.

What real-world performance does Google Coral provide?

Google Coral’s real-world performance is notable for its speed and efficiency in edge computing applications. It excels particularly in processing visual data, where it can perform complex tasks like image recognition and object detection rapidly and accurately.

How does the Edge TPU differ from Cloud TPUs?

The Edge TPU is distinct from Cloud TPUs primarily in its use case and scale. While Cloud TPUs, operating in data centers, are ideal for training large, complex ML models, the Edge TPU is designed for quick, efficient on-device inferencing, suitable for smaller, power-constrained devices.

Which machine learning frameworks does Google Coral’s Edge TPU support

Google Coral’s Edge TPU is exclusively compatible with TensorFlow Lite for machine learning frameworks. This specialization allows for optimized performance in executing TensorFlow Lite models, particularly useful in edge computing scenarios.

For more detailed information on each of these points, you can visit the official [Google Coral FAQ]( page.

How to create a TensorFlow Lite model for Google Coral’s Edge TPU?

To create a TensorFlow Lite model for the Edge TPU, convert your TensorFlow model to TensorFlow Lite and ensure it is quantized using quantization-aware training or post-training quantization. Then compile the model for compatibility with the Edge TPU.

Can TensorFlow 2.0 be used to create models for Google Coral?

Yes, TensorFlow 2.0 and Keras APIs can be used for model creation. Convert the model to TensorFlow Lite for the Edge TPU, adapting the tensor formats to be compatible with the TensorFlow Lite API.

Is accelerated ML training possible with Google Coral’s Edge TPU?

Accelerated ML training on the Edge TPU is limited to retraining the final layer of a TensorFlow model. It supports backpropagation for the final layer or weight imprinting for new classifications using small datasets.

What’s the difference between the Coral Dev Board and the USB Accelerator?

The Coral Dev Board is a single-board computer with an integrated SOC and Edge TPU, functioning independently or with other hardware. The USB Accelerator is an accessory for existing Linux-based systems, adding the Edge TPU as a coprocessor.

What software do I need for Google Coral’s Edge TPU?

Required software includes the Edge TPU runtime and TensorFlow Lite Python API. Other options are available, including APIs for C/C++ for advanced applications.

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